Susan Lucas

Susan, 72, from Kelvedon in Essex, was originally diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago, before having a mastectomy. “I was completely fine up until just over two years ago, when I started getting quite a severe pain in my neck, which I put down to a trapped nerve or sprain”, she explained.

“The doctor thought it was just a stiff neck, but I was in so much pain that I was sent to A&E. I was given painkillers and referred for an MRI scan. I then saw a private specialist, where a scan revealed the cancer had returned in two places in my vertebrae.  I was then referred to a Breast Cancer consultant for further scans and radiotherapy. Two weeks later, I started chemotherapy at Colchester General Hospital.”

Susan cites herself as being “extremely lucky” to have started treatment before the first lockdown, continuing with her chemotherapy all the way through the pandemic without interruption. “You hear so many horror stories about patients having their treatment stopped. Fortunately, this wasn’t me. Later I was switched to immunotherapy, and that’s when I heard about the Hope for Tomorrow mobile cancer care unit. I’ve been going there for over a year now.”

The unit is just four miles up the road from where she lives, much closer than the hospital which requires travelling on the notoriously congested A12, the main road through deepest Essex. “Using the unit means no more being held up in traffic and no more waiting to get my treatment. On the unit I’ve found it to be so much quicker. I’m on Phesgo which is administered over 15 minutes as opposed to three hours if it’s done intravenously at the hospital, so my husband can drop me off and wait in the car for me rather than go backwards and forwards.

“It also means I can pop into the garden centre or do the shopping in the time it would take me to get the hospital!”

Her treatment is carried out every three weeks, with a blood test required the day before. At one time, this would have meant two consecutive days of making the trek to Colchester, but not anymore. “The bus – as we call it – has been an absolute Godsend; the nurses are so lovely and make the experience much less stressful than it could be.”